Comics artist and former Gainax employee Lea Hernandez joins us to talk about her turbulent time back in the late 80s with the company that gave birth to Evangelion.
Reviewby Zac Bertschy, Feb 23rd 2004
The Princess of Disaster has escaped from the kingdom of Leafeania, determined to spread a red snow of corruption across the earth. Only Pretear, the legendary girl who can turn red snow to white, can stop her, and it's up to the Leafe Knights to find out just which girl Pretear is! Their lives become quickly entangled with Himeno, who thought she was an average high school kid, until a team of magical knights showed up on her doorstep. Himeno is Pretear, but is she up to the task?
Sometimes, when the mood strikes, it's necessary to buy a fountain soda and put a little of each soda in the cup. You wind up with a little Coke, a little sprite, a little Mountain Dew, a little Dr. Pepper and, if you weren't paying attention, an ill-fitting splash of Hawaiian Punch or Hi-C Orange. It might seem like a good idea, but the result is usually a disaster. Pretear is a similar experience; there's a little of every shoujo genre in here, including magical girl, male harem, straight romance, fish-out-of-water, slice of life, and even class warfare, but they never really come together. It strives to be too many things at once and basically fails at all of them. It isn't an insultingly bad show, just a mediocre one.
Pretear starts off on the wrong foot. Immediately, we're introduced to no fewer than seven characters at once, and they're all spouting really bad expository dialogue. The characters stand around and tell each other things they already know, stooping even to describe characters everyone present in the scene is already familiar with. The plot is quickly set up, and then we're whisked away to watch Himeno talk about her life as a newly-minted aristocrat, her alcoholic father having married into a rich family. She doesn't fit in at school and her stuck-up stepsisters won't accept her. Already we have a few too many plots, and the show is only five minutes in. Had they introduced the Leafe Knights slowly, perhaps one or two per episode (or, for God's sake, maybe thinned out the cast a little bit), it wouldn't have seemed so rushed. As it is, you get “okayhere'stheleafeknightsthere'stheheroineshe'supsetnowshe'smagicalandwearsasillycostumeGO!”. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?
These first four episodes basically tell you everything you need to know about the show immediately and then settle in to a well-worn and unpleasant routine. Himeno spends the first half of the episode dealing with her mundane familial problems, and then spends the last half flinging woo with Hayate (one of about 6 billion bishounen in this series) and combining herself with the other Leafe knights to take down some silly-looking demon. Once you've seen the first two episodes, you can basically guess where this show is going. The screenwriter was clearly on autopilot; past the first episode or so, the rest of the episodes on this disc seem to have been scripted a'la Mad Libs. Let's play, shall we?
Himeno has a problem! One of the Leafe Knights, _________ (Leafe Knight) has to combine with her in order to defeat __________ (demon). That's not all that's on her mind; her rich stepsister ________ (passive-aggressive form of punishment) to her at school, and she has to deal with ________ (struggle pertaining to her new life).
You get the picture.
From a production value standpoint, Pretear is purely average. The animation fluctuates between OK and cheap, and the backgrounds are fairly sparse, opting for a watercolor look. The result is a vibrant, pastel-colored show that isn't heavy on the detail but doesn't look bad. The character designs are generic, and that's being generous; some of the guys in this series really push the limits of what can be considered ‘bishounen’. There's a blonde that looks like a drag queen version of Mihoshi, complete with terrible '80's haircut. Himeno herself is Generic High School Anime Heroine #98438. The male lead is a Tamahome look-alike with long hair and a silly blue outfit that looks as though it had been rejected from an older Gundam series. Yuck.
The dub is adequate. There's nothing to write home about here. Some of the Leafe Knights seem like they're overacting or trying way too hard to achieve a certain type of voice. Himeno's performance ranges between tolerable and grating, which is par for the course in Magical Girl dubs. The rest of the cast are mostly generic actors doing flat line readings. The Japanese voices aren't that much better, so you're damned if you do, and you're damned if you don't. Pick one. The show will be mediocre and lame no matter which way you go.
If you took all of the separate genres Pretear tries to mix together and separated them, you could find a shining example of that genre on the store shelf that's better than Pretear. If you want Magical Girl, watch Card Captor Sakura. Romance? Marmalade Boy. Class warfare? Hana Yori Dango. Fish out of water? Escaflowne. Male harem? Fushigi Yugi. The list goes on, people. Pretear isn't your father's Sailor Moon, and chances are, it won't be yours, either.
Overall (dub) : C
Overall (sub) : C
Story : C
Animation : C
Art : C
Music : C
+ Not the worst thing you'll see this year.
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